- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 28, 2001

Money isn't everything, but it's a lot. In "Holiday," a lighthearted play being performed at the Olney Theatre Center for the Arts, it pulls apart a young couple in love.
The story line is simple. Upper-crust 1920s New Yorker Julia Seton (Christa Scott-Reed) falls in love with Johnny Case (Christopher Lane), who is hardworking but lower middle class. The romance stirs a bunch of doubts in Julia's stern, money-conscious father, Edward Seton (Ian Stuart).
The father finally allows Johnny to wed his daughter, but the groom-to-be pulls back at the last minute. He wants to be free to figure out what to do with his life.
Mr. Lane brings enthusiasm and charm to his good-hearted and idealistic Johnny. Miss Scott-Reed elegantly plays the graceful Julia with her long pearl necklaces, hip-hugging dresses a la Roaring '20s (by costume designer David Toser) and remarkably red lips.
When we first meet the couple, they are in each other's arms on a couch in the parlor of the Setons' Fifth Avenue home. The room has a portrait of old granddaddy over the fireplace, a silver tea set and a view through the windows of a silhouetted New York skyline (set design by Daniel Conway). Two-thirds of the play takes place here; fortunately, the 12-member cast is so strong that our eyes never get bored with the set's sameness.
Important to remember is that this is a romantic comedy (written by Philip Barry in the 1920s). Don't expect a serious dissection of the ills of wealth.
The most interesting and lively character is Julia's sister, Linda Seton (Kelly McAndrew), a flamboyant young woman whose diagnosis today probably would be manic-depressive. She's a poor little rich girl who likes to break rules while having a bunch of fun in the process.
Miss McAndrew is terrific as Linda. She possesses an air of arrogance and vulnerability at the same time. One minute she delivers a biting sarcastic remark with a smirk on her face, and the next she pours pure tenderness over Julia and Johnny.
Another misfit is Ned Seton (Jeffries Thaiss), Julia and Linda's brother. He's a heavy drinker who takes advantage of his father's wealth but has no intention of walking in his ambitious footsteps. Mr. Thaiss plays his drunken character with skill, down to the intoxicated slow-motion moves and slurred, drawn-out sentences.
David McCann and Helen Hedman play the Setons' snooty relatives Laura Cram and Seton Cram with a remarkable level of self-importance, while Ian LeValley as Nick Potter and Brigid Cleary as Susan Potter, Linda's best buddies, have more fun than anyone else. They sing duets and play off each other's comments like a first-class comedy team. The Crams are there for garnish, while the Potters play an instrumental part in the plot when they enlighten Linda on the question of to whom her heart really belongs.
Under the direction of John Going, the moneyed characters speak the type of English that makes one think of old movies. (This is appropriate; "Holiday" was made into a movie, in which Katharine Hepburn played Linda, in 1938.) It's American English, but with that streak of British English with silent R's. It's a nice touch.
The cast is strong and convincing, and Miss McAndrew deserves extra applause. This production brings us fun in a sort of early- to mid-20th-century romantic-comedy kind of way.


WHAT: "Holiday"
WHERE: Olney Theatre Center for the Arts, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Sundays except Aug. 19; 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays and Aug. 4, 11 and 18, through Aug. 19
TICKETS: $15 to $34
PHONE: 301/924-3400
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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